Do Persons Have Souls? by Nancey Murphy
by Robert Lawrence Kuhn (9/27/10 9:58 pm)
In his day, early modern philosopher Rene Descartes used Latin and French terms for the “soul” that could also be translated as “mind,” and it was only later that philosophers adopted the second term, while the former predominated in religious circles. Descartes thought the mind was a nonphysical substance separate from the brain, a version of “substance dualism” influenced by fifth-century theologian Augustine and his Platonic predecessors. Thomas Hobbes, on the other hand, was among the first of the modern philosophers to deny the existence of a mind or soul, arguing instead that humans are entirely physical.
At the time, most Christian thinkers associated their theories of human nature with Descartes’ dualism, but in the 19th century, many adopted the popular philosophy of “absolute idealism,” meaning that all of reality (including humans) is essentially mental or spiritual. Meanwhile, Charles Darwin’s work on the continuity between humans and animals led some to conclude that if animals have no souls, then neither do humans. Others avoided this conclusion by arguing that while the human body may have evolved, God creates a soul for each individual at conception.
Throughout the 20th century, biblical scholars, historians of doctrine, and theologians increasingly concluded that the body-soul dualism is not inherent in biblical teaching, and many opted for physicalism. By mid-century, philosophers were divided between mind-body dualism and physicalism. And developments in neuroscience have put dualists more and more on the defensive. Among physicalists, the important debate today is between reductionists and anti-reductionists; that is, if we are purely physical, then must it not be the case that all thought and behavior are simply determined by physics, genetics, or neurobiology? Scholars engaged in the science-and-religion dialogue have joined with anti-reductionist philosophers of mind to explain how our higher human capacities, such as reason, morality, and even spirituality, arise out of our complex neural equipment but are not entirely determined by it.
Today, scientists, theologians, and philosophers have converged on a physicalist account of human beings: In other words, we do not have minds or souls. But informal polls show that the majority of people in this country are divided between body-soul dualism and a tri-part account of humans as body, soul, and spirit. It’s important that we keep this split between scholars and the general public in mind during political discussions of issues like abortion and stem cell research.
+ view all Discussions (14)
Mitra U. wrote:
Cases of rebirth ( if any single case estabilished scientifically in the world) can be taken as proof of existance of soul.
Souls of seers, who worked for humanity throught their lives, are few examples of God, we must take their lives as our religion to develop peace, harmony & love in society.
Such souls as God must not be taken as creator, the process creation of universe is entirely saperate subject, not a least concerned with such God/Gods, rather soul/ god can be taken as something superior species then humen or can be taken as a product of the process - evolution.
Posted 8:48 PM / August 20, 2012
"What it is like to be a Space Kaspar Hauser" "What is the world for" "What it is like to be a Space Kaspar Hauser" who never had an experience of the world who knew everything about every elementary particle in the universe a human being could possibly know?
Posted 11:05 AM / August 07, 2012
"What it is like to be Mary" "What is the world for" "What it is like to be Mary" who never had an experience of red who had Laplace's demon knowledge at her disposal ?
"What it is like to be the Space Kaspar Hauser" "What is the world for" "What it is like to be the Space Kaspar Hauser" who never had an experience of the world who had Laplace's demon knowledge at his disposal ?
Posted 1:58 PM / August 05, 2012
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Can Religion Be Explained Without God?
Most people believe that God exists and religion is God’™s revelation. But some claim that religion needs nothing supernatural; that religion, without God, can flourish because personal psychology and group sociology drive religion.
- Arguing God From First Cause, by Alister McGrath
- How are Brains Structured?
- Arguing God's Existence, by Alvin Plantinga
- Why a Fine-Tuned Universe? by Robin Collins
- Do Persons Have Souls? by Nancey Murphy
- Why Is Consciousness So Mysterious? by Keith Ward
- Does God Make Sense? by V.V. Raman
- How Vast is the Cosmos?
- Is there Life after Death?
- Did Our Universe Have a Beginning?
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